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The Devil Is in the Detail

The Union of Professional Educators – Voice of the Workers would like to raise the issue that the deal struck yesterday between MUT and the Government will be difficult, if not even impossible, to implement. 

Reference was made to contact tracing procedures in schools. It should seem redundant to have to admit that it is very difficult for schools to exercise any power over contact tracing procedures, other than supplying employee details on request. Delays have always been at the level of the lack of efficiency of the contact tracing team, who only notify of possible positive cases after several days. Furthermore, it is to be borne in mind that individuals can freely and voluntarily misguide, or not provide details regarding with whom they had been in contact. 

Another point regarded giving educators priority for vaccination. This had already been established and confirmed by the deputy Prime Minister himself in December 2020, hence no real improvement on the existing situation can be said to have been made.

It was also agreed that all parties concerned would be receiving weekly updates about COVID cases in schools. Currently the lack of transparency that exists among schools raises concerns as to whether this will be effective or not. The UPE has recommended, time and time again, that the general public should be kept in the know of the number of cases in schools, a recommendation which has repeatedly been shrugged off, and dismissed as being unnecessary, if not even referred to as disruptive scaremongering.

The UPE is concerned over the mentioned proposal for the enforcement of the presentation of medical certificates. Currently, educators are being supplied with “Fit for school” certificates which do not indicate the reason for their absence from work. This has repeatedly worked in favour of the spread of COVID-19 within schools, rather than against it. 

The UPE is thus, once again, formally reiterating its request for a detailed printed, or printable, copy of the agreement reached between the MUT and the Government, since it is aware that the devil is in the detail. The union would be far from surprised, at this point in time, if this agreement has not been put down in writing, given that the UPE is also fully aware of the common practice which MEDE has been adopting, whereby it makes ad hoc agreements with the MUT.